South Africa’s KRUGER PARK and BIG CAT RESERVE photo safari - August 2014
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 20th Aug 2014
We visited the Big Cat Reserve for 3 nights followed by 8 nights inside the Kruger National Park at Lower Sabie and Satara Camps.
This time of year in Southern Africa is a good time for game viewing as the animals are drawn more and more to the last water sources. From this point on it will get progressively more difficult for the herbivores and easier for the carnivores as the weak, old and young animals begin to feel the pressure due to less good grazing and less water.
First up, the big Cat reserve provided some great opportunities with the two young female leopards, in their camp close to the lodge. Ntombi the Cheetah graced us with her presence on the plains near Bush Camp and the Cheetah Boys, Floppy and Hunters made two kills during our stay. Being able to get so close to these adult male Cheetahs is still one of the highlights of the trip. Hippo, porcupine and a Bushbaby called "peanut" were some more highlights.
We then entered into the Kruger National park via Orpen Gate (Vehicle 1) and via Phabeni gate (Vehicle 2) On route to our first camp we came across the Nwaswitsontso Lion pride just north of Tshokwane. They had just finished a Zebra kill and were relaxing on the banks of the river.
Lower Sabie is famous for the great photo opportunities at Sunset Dam, a mere 200m from the camp gate. We spent a whole morning at the dam photographing the residents as well as two male Lions that came to drink on the far side of the dam. Fish Eagles, Giant Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Storks, Hippos and Crocodiles kept our trigger fingers happy.
The afternoon drive took us out to the Mlondozi picnic site area where we stayed with two male Cheetahs who were resting up for the day. It was a lucky day for us and the cheetah but unlucky for a young zebra foal who stumbled right into the resting Cheetah who gave chase. Sadly the Zebra foal was knocked down by a few of the fleeing adults and the Cheetahs grabbed it right in front of us.
We spent a good deal of time at some waterholes in the Kruger which proved to be very successful, Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Warthog, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Zebra and a beautiful male Leopard were photographed.
Apart from the Cheetah and Zebra incident, we were very lucky to see three more chases which ended up in the prey getting away, and perhaps the best chase and catch sequence I have seen and photographed yet in the Kruger. On this occasion a Lioness waited in ambush on the bank of the Sweni River, just south of Satara Camp. A small herd of Zebra came in to drink and the result was an amazing chase through the river where the Lioness managed to catch a young Zebra foal. Such a sighting is really quite rare to see and we were really very lucky and fortunate to have been able to witness, and photograph it.
A few other highlights were a number of small Spotted Hyaena cubs who emerged from their roadside den, approx 700 Buffalo drinking from Girivana waterhole, the two leopard cubs and their mother in the Nwatimhiri River north of Lower Sabie and the 4 young male Lions we met on the road towards Crocodile Bridge.
The randomness and surprise factor in the Kruger is second to none and when the conditions are right it is a really amazing place to spend time in.
Many thanks to our two amazing rangers at the Big Cat Reserve, Deon and Matt, thanks so much for all your hard work getting us the great shots that we did. Thanks also to all the staff at Tshukudu for looking after us so well.
Thanks also to the amazing WILD4 backup team, mum and dad - thanks for all your help, the amazing meals and endless energy you have which make this trip such a great success.
Finally I want to thank Mike Lentz for guiding the second vehicle in Kruger, it was a privilege to have had Mike on the trip with his amazing knowledge gained during more than 10 years in the bush, Mike I hope we get to have you again on more WILD4 photo safaris.
Here are some photos from the trip - enjoy
Kind regards from the WILD4 team.
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For thirty-five years I had dreamed of going on a photographic safari in South Africa. This year I finally realized that dream and it is fair to say that my hopes and expectations were surpassed in every way. I had done extensive research on African photographic safaris on the Internet before settling on Wild 4 photo safaris. What an inspired choice that turned out to be! This family company run by Stu Porter and his wife, Justyna, and aided by Stu’s parents, John and Ann, provides the perfect safari experience for photographers of every skill level. Stu is one South Africa’s finest wild-life photographers and a first-class teacher into the bargain. His knowledge of the habitat and habits of the animals and birds to be found in Kruger National Park is simply encyclopaedic. I was accompanied on the trip by my 25 year-old daughter, Amy, and we eagerly adapted to the early morning wake-up call to go off into the wilds in one of Stu’s specially fitted jeeps to photograph animals at sunrise. Every day brought its special moments whether the spectacle of lions mating just a few metres from the jeep, or leopards lying lazily in the grass digesting a meal, or elephants and hippos frolicking in a river. The days sped by and we returned home with thousands of photographs of birds and animals to sort through and cherish for the memories they bring back. A safari with Wild 4 is more than a photographic experience with a master photographer: it is an initiation into the wonders of South Africa – its wild-life and spectacular landscapes - and, above all, an experience of friendship as everyone aboard the jeep bond in common purpose. Everything about Wild 4 is first class: organization is superb, accommodations excellent, choices of locale perfect. Our safari with Stu and Wild4 was truly the experience of a life-time.
Andrew Oliver, CANADA
I've recently returned from a "Wild 4 Photo Safari" and can recommend them without reservation. Their skill, professionalism and expertise is excelled only by the standard of excellence shown in every aspect of the trip. From the logistics to the accommodation, the food to the transportation, their inside knowledge of African wildlife to their passion for what they do, every aspect SUPERB!! If you are looking for the ultimate "Photo Safari", this is it! I will definitely book again!!!
Del Hunter, UK